ChromeOS now the 2nd most popular desktop OS

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OS Wars: Chrome surpasses macOS as the second-most popular desktop operating system – YouTube

Comments (44)

44 responses to “ChromeOS now the 2nd most popular desktop OS”

  1. ringofvoid

    ChromeOS is easily managed by IT departments in both education and enterprise. Seriously easy to manage. There's a lot of traction in that. Chromebooks tend to be cheaper and fully sufficient for student needs. As a parent, I'd rather buy $100 -$150 Chromebooks for my kids to potentially break than invest in a more expensive Mac or Windows machine. Also, between Chrome web apps, Android apps & Linux apps they can do a lot more than most folks give them credit for. Add streaming game services like Stadia, Geforce Now & Xbox steaming and it's good for gaming too. I think a lot of people look at ChromeOS in terms of what it can't do rather than giving it credit for what it can. Yes, it's more limiting than Windows or Mac but even within those limits there's a lot it has to offer

  2. ghostrider

    I have two Chromebooks at home now - one replaced Windows on an older laptop (it flies again using CloudReady), and the other is a new Acer Chromebook Spin. For anyone who spends a lot of time in a browser (that's almost everyone these days), and is happy running webapps, ChromeOS is just great - I mean really great. Easy to manage, low on resource, instant updates etc. Windows is an absolute dog in comparison, and that comes from someone who spends their professional life managing Windows in the Enterprise. Can you technically do more on Windows? Possibly, but now that ChromeOS has access to the Android Play Store, it's quite a different experience.

  3. winner

    And not only that, but Mars is now the second planet in the solar system where there are more Linux systems than Windows systems (true).

    • dftf

      In reply to Winner:

      Given the "Windows Subsystem for Linux", where you can install Ubuntu inside Windows 10, I wonder how-long it may be before such installs outnumber native Ubuntu installs?

      • Truffles

        In reply to dftf:

        I'm guessing a very long time. It's tough to see a use case where its worth incurring the added debug complexity. Much easier to just spin up an independent Linux instance.

      • navarac

        In reply to dftf:

        Why would a Linux user put up with the bloatware/spyware that is Windows 10, just to run Linux? Far better to run standalone OS's for whatever the usage.

        • Paul Thurrott

          We all need to remember that everyone has different needs. And that not everyone agrees with everything you think. I don't need this functionality. But the ability to run Linux apps on other platforms must be enough of need given that both Microsoft and Google have implemented a solution for that in their respective desktop platforms. And the other platform, macOS already has a Linux-like Unix environment built-in.
          • hrlngrv

            In reply to paul-thurrott:

            Google's Chrome OS has a Linux kernel. Chrome OS doesn't need to add a Linux kernel in order to run Linux software. Heck, Chrome OS in developer mode is a Gentoo variant. Add crouton and xiwi, and one can run Linux GUI software using Chrome OS windows management. Adding containers for Linux software was presumably much easier and likely far more robust than MSFT adding WSL.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to dftf:

        You seriously believe the +80% of Windows PC users who never use CMD or Powershell command prompts have installed WSL for kicks?

  4. dftf

    Ars Technica also covered this in an article titled "The world’s second-most popular desktop operating system isn’t macOS anymore" just-over a week-ago, and as someone there commented (paraphrased):


    "The stat was based on some IDC data, which refers to number of devices sold in 2020, where ChromeOS was on nearly 11% of the devices sold, versus macOS at 7.5% and Windows on 80.5%. That's not the same as marketshare average during 2020.


    According to the Wikipedia article "Usage share of operating systems", under the heading "Desktop and laptop computers", ChromeOS is only at 1.7% marketshare; macOS on 17.1% and Windows is on 76.6%.


    Devices sold during a certain timeframe =/= overall marketshare, as this ignores all pre-existing devices!"

    • Paul Thurrott

      Um. We covered it here as well. I have no idea why this thread even exists. https://www.thurrott.com/mobile/chrome-os/chromebook/246833/2020-was-the-best-year-ever-for-chromebook "Overall, over 1 out of every 10 personal computers sold in 2020 was a Chromebook." https://www.thurrott.com/microsoft/246784/report-microsoft-soars-with-teams-struggles-with-chromebooks-in-education
  5. Sprtfan

    With all of the ChromeOS love I thought I'd share some from the other side. I only deal with lower end chromebooks from schools and I'm sure that is part of the problem. The worst issue we have had lately is that a student will be working on a Google Doc or Form and will get a message that it is taking longer to save than expected and the page will freeze up. When they close and go back to what they are working on they lost all of the progress they had made. We have had kids revert to using their phones instead and I can't imaging trying to type out a few paragraphs on a phone. (Thought it might be a school wifi issues but kids are having the same issue at home)

    Chromebooks are still a pain to scroll on still and the built in reader is absolute garbage compared to Immersive Reader. This is pretty important in a school environment. There is away to get Immersive Reader on a chromebook but will not work with the schools log in and is not officially supported.

    We had an issue start yesterday that I think is probably ITs fault. When the chromebook is closed it logs the user out closing whatever they were working on. I assume that they should be able to force it to lock instead.

    I think ChromeOS is ok for the most part but crap hardware is crap hardware and the OS is ultimately a small part of the overall cost. At the very least I don't think that theory that kids will get used to using chromebooks and want to keep using chromebooks when they are older will hold true. They associate chromebooks with crap hardware and schoolwork and losing an hour of work when you document didn't autosave will stick with you for a long time.

    • Truffles

      In reply to Sprtfan:

      Yep, it's an example of the problem with all workplace computing - someone in IT bought it based on price and support costs, with usability not really factoring in to the equation. Over time the value of the brand decreases for users, but increases for IT buyers.

    • minke

      In reply to Sprtfan:

      I don't recall ever losing my work using Chromebooks. Is it possible the school has not allowed the offline mode with Google docs, etc.? I would guess that might let you lose some work if you lost Internet while working. However, I live and work in an area where the Internet comes and goes multiple times every single day, and as I said I can't recall ever losing my work. On the other hand, I lose work routinely using Macs and PCs. Automatic saving to OneDrive is particularly problematic.

      • Sprtfan

        In reply to Minke:

        Offline mode is allowed. I thought it might have been a hardware issue at first but was to widespread to be the reason. Someone told me it might be related to a copy and paste issue when bringing information in from another document or website. If this was the case, I would think the same issue would happen on phones and windows computers but doesn't seem to.. That is the workaround right now. Still not great because you will always lose some work.

  6. longhorn

    I think Chrome OS has surpassed macOS in the past too, like 1 - 2 years ago. Unfortunately, Chrome OS doesn't get much Internet usage. macOS still has 8 times higher global usage share according to Statcounter web statistics.


    • dftf

      In reply to longhorn:

      Yes, the video the OP started this post on was based on number of devices sold in 2020, by operating-system, which is not the same as "total marketshare". For that, ChromeOS stands at less-than 2%, whereas macOS is now just-over 17%.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to longhorn:

      Chrome OS doesn't get much Internet usage.

      Isn't Chrome OS intended to interact with the web primarily?

      OTOH, if you mean Chrome OS users don't frequent the sites which provide sampling for StatCounter and the like, that may be more a ding against those services' sampling than against Chrome OS.

      There's also the distinction between new sales and installed base. I figure there could be several times as many Macs in use as Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. Since the pie chart in the video shows IDC as the source, the data is almost certainly either new device shipments or sales.

      • longhorn

        In reply to hrlngrv:
        OTOH, if you mean Chrome OS users don't frequent the sites which provide sampling for StatCounter and the like, that may be more a ding against those services' sampling than against Chrome OS.


        Statcounter is favorable to Chrome OS. Netmarketshare had Chrome OS at 0.3 % usage share end of 2020. There are many more Macs used, since Chrome OS has only been on the market for 10 years and didn't have Android and Linux support until fairly recently.


        But let's use the promising Statcounter numbers. If Chrome OS continues to grow at present rate in absolute numbers it will have the same usage share as macOS in year 2090.


        From a technical perspective Chrome OS might be a success. But for users "it's all about apps". What is fun about Chrome OS? Google made the mistake of believing it could create a limited platform and get away with it.


        If you create a limited platform someone else must create exciting experiences, but so far most value is tied to native applications.


      • wright_is

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Yes, Macs have been sold for around 26 years, ChromeOS for only a few years and only really significant sales in the last 2. So it might have sold a lot in the last couple of quarters, but the installed base is still relatively small, so, depending on what you are measuring, its user base is much bigger or much smaller than macOS.

        It is like the Windows 10 usage based on app usage - I have 2 private machines which have the store active, but no downloaded apps, beyond the ones that Windows comes with and I run a fleet of around 400 PCs, where the store is blocked by policy.

        Here, in Germany, they are still as rare as hen's teeth, although that is mainly due to GDPR and the failure of Privacy Shield, combined with the Germany's views on privacy, in general.

        • rob_segal

          In reply to wright_is:

          I was surprised to realize ChromeOS is over 9 and a half years old. Google began distributing the CR-48 in December of 2010. Doesn't feel like it was that long ago. Time flies when you're stuck at home for a year. ?

        • bkkcanuck

          In reply to wright_is:

          Generally speaking, I believe your average Mac will be in use longer than your average chrome book since many are sold based on lower cost and thus would likely need replacing more often (including all the ones that are used in education because kids are more accident prone). As such it will take a higher level of sales of Chromebooks per annum to create a larger installed base than MacOS. [had to correct my typo, did not want to have chrome books anywhere near my anum so I changed it to annum]

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to wright_is:

          Yes, Macs have been sold for around 26 years,

          Off by a decade. The first Macs were sold in 1984. That's now 37 years ago. If you mean iMacs, that's more like 23 years.

  7. minke

    Since late 2018 my Pixelbook has been my main home PC using Chrome OS. I've also switched my elderly father to a Chromebook and it has reduced my personal IT support by 95%. Most average people never need any program beyond what you can run on Chrome OS, and they just work, and work, and work. The cost/benefit ratio is off the charts compared to any other system.

  8. anoldamigauser

    And this is why Microsoft needs to get Windows 10X out the door, keep it dead simple, and brand it as a Microsoft and not a Windows product.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to AnOldAmigaUser:

      As for dead simple, I figure Chrome OS would maintain its structural advantage over any version of Windows until MSFT adopts the same approach to upgrades that Chrome OS uses. Namely, there are 3 partitions each for kernel and rootfs. Upgrades are downloaded in the background and saved on partitions NOT IN USE. The final step in the upgrade process is changing which kernel and rootfs partitions are mounted when the system restarts. The newly mounted partitions don't need to install anything, and the other partitions become available for the next upgrade.

      If only Windows upgrades were as simple and robust.

    • F4IL

      In reply to AnOldAmigaUser:

      For all intents and purposes W10X is WindowsRT with a chromium based Edge instead of IE. They could change the branding but underneath it would still be a more limited version of Windows. You get the limitations but not the simplicity.


      For W10X to be an alternative (i.e simpler) Microsoft OS they'd have to create one that is not based on the legacy of Windows (which is irrelevant for a simple system) or use something like chromium OS just like they did with Edge.

      • shameer_mulji

        In reply to F4IL:

        From my understanding, Windows 10X does break free of the legacy of Windows and that it's Windows in branding only. Until, of course, MS supports running Win32 apps in a container which is supposedly coming next year.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to shameer_mulji:

          From my understanding, Windows 10X does break free of the legacy of Windows 

          One thing I haven't seen in the few hands-on reviews of Windows 10X I've seen is how removable drives are handled. Simply put, what happens when one inserts a usb drive into a usb port on a machine running Windows 10X? Can Windows 10X use removable drives? If so, how are they mounted? Drive letters, implying Windows 10X remains on a single overstuffed C: drive?

          Any decade now MSFT may BEGIN to consider moving away from a file system architecture the design of which goes back to the 1960s.

      • anoldamigauser

        In reply to F4IL:

        If the underpinnings are, indeed, Windows RT, then Windows 10X will be DOA. Having had an original Surface, I can say that it had all the complexity of Windows with regard to patching and updating, without the application compatibility. I would be interested in knowing where you got the information that it is based on Windows RT.

        If it is a new, lightweight OS, similar to Chrome OS then it will have a shot at success. That said, it has to be as simple to maintain, it will have to support offline work, and support of Android apps is probably more important than support of Win32 apps. They will also need to keep "Windows" out of the name, or they will never be able to set expectations properly.


  9. Dave

    I've now given up on Windows altogether. I seemed to be spending too much time maintaining my 2 PC's and I also got fed up with pushy adverts to use Office or incentives to use Bing or apps from 'partners'. I've given one PC to my son, the remaining one has had Windows replaced with Linux, and I've just bought an Acer Spin Chromebook. Life is so much easier now.

    • illuminated

      In reply to Dave:

      Why did you have to maintain them? I have 6 PCs and I do nothing. They just update automatically.

      • Dave

        In reply to illuminated:
        Yes whilst updates did happen automatically they were nevertheless problematic on many occasions with one of my PC's failing to boot altogether after the October update. You kinda get fed up of it. Chrome runs 2 copies of the OS and one copy updates in the background. When you next reboot you get the updated version. It happens seemlessly. I've been using Chromebooks since 2014 (as a subsidiary device) and I've never had a single technical problem. In that 7 years the functionality has come a long way and in my case has reached the point where it has become my daily driver. Windows has become an irrelevance.


        • dftf

          In reply to Dave:

          "Chrome runs 2 copies of the OS and one copy updates in the background. When you next reboot you get the updated version. It happens seamlessly"


          Okay, so on a technical-level I agree an "update partition" is different. But from the end-user perspective, how is it different? Windows Update installs in the background, during which time you may notice lower-performance (especially on lower-end CPU devices, and those with mechanical HDDs) but otherwise nothing. When the updates are done, you get a message asking you to reboot, and during the reboot it finalises things.


          I mean, Linux is similar too: take Ubuntu or Mint. While they are doing updates, you'll lose some performance, and you also cannot install any-other apps as the system-updates come via the APT utility, which is how all other apps are installed (either via the Terminal, the built-in stores, Synaptic or via a manual .DEB). So unlike Windows, updates there actually stop you installing or uninstalling any other apps in the meantime. (Less rebooting is generally required though.)


          (For any macOS users: are reboots generally a thing there?)

          • interloper

            In reply to dftf:

            (For any macOS users: are reboots generally a thing there?)


            Yes. When an update is needed, it can take anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour to complete. My most recent macOS update was around the 40 minute mark.


            The narrative that Windows updates are far more inconvenient than on the Mac is a thing of the past. If anything, they are more frequent but take far less time than macOS updates these days (unless it’s a version update, of course).

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to dftf:

            The theoretical ability to install/uninstall applications while Windows Update is upgrading parts of the OS may be one of the reasons Windows Update goes wrong more often than apt/dpkg/yum/pacman/emerge/rpm under various Linux distributions.

            Also, FWIW, Debian package managers are designed to lock the package database while in use. That's a GOOD THING. And, FWIW, it's possible to install non-packaged software while package managers are running. Building and installing from source code bypasses package management.

            Agreed that standard Linux distributions lose performance during upgrades. Not so much Chrome OS, which only uses bandwidth when foreground browsing/web usage is idle. With decent internet, streaming audio and downloading data coexist well. That, and Linux kernels are 5-10 MB and Chrome OS rootfs is under 1 GB.

            Back to Windows. Part of the reason it appears more flexible during upgrades is because most Windows software doesn't use shared components. Thus if both ABC and XYZ use Python as their scripting component, both tend to install their own FULL Python installation. Part of the reason Windows deserves its reputation for bloat. If ABC and XYZ both use their own separate Python subsystems, then no need to lock a single shared Python installation while one or the other upgrades.

      • navarac

        In reply to illuminated:

        Auto updates is just the problem in Windows. At least you have to authorise it in Linux.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to navarac:

          At least you have to authorise it in Linux.

          Picky: Linux Mint at least has an option for automatic upgrading. I believe it also has options for excluding kernels or PPAs from automatic upgrades while automatically upgrading everything from proper repositories.

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